You’re New Here – So Let’s Get Started

Your First Steps
Gather items you already have at home like birth, marriage and death certificates, wills, medals, newspaper cuttings, family bibles, diaries, letters and postcards. If you have family photos try and establish who they are and note on the back. Talk to relatives to see what they know. This will give you some idea of what records you need to look for. Read books and magazines about tracing your family history available from most libraries.

Birth, Marriage & Death
The most important records you will use are birth, marriage and death certificates. In England and Wales registration began on 1 July 1837 and certificates will give you details of when and where the event took place. Birth certificates give the mother’s maiden name and marriage certificates give the names and occupations of the fathers. Indexes of Births, marriages and deaths are available to search online or at a local library or Record Office. You will need to buy certificates from the General Register Office. At present they cost £9.25 each. You can do this online at or ring 0300 123 1837.

Census Returns
Censuses began in 1801 but only name individuals from 1841. They are taken every 10 years and the latest one available is 1911. They will tell you about every member of the family in the household on Census night, their ages, occupations, relationship to the head of the household and where they were born. Local census returns can be viewed at Public Record Offices and at Local Studies Libraries. The censuses for England and Wales are available on line from and

Wills and Probate
Wills are often overlooked as a source of useful information for family history research. They list family members and may give facts about family relationships, property and business. In 1858 wills became a state responsibility. Indexes to the wills and administrations granted are available on for the period 1861-1941.Some indexes can be viewed at Public Record Offices. Copies of wills are available from Postal Searches and Copies Department, Leeds District Probate Registry, York Place, Leeds LS1 2BA. They cost £6 each.

Parish Records
Before civil registration began in 1837 records of baptisms, marriages and burials were kept by the Church of England. These registers began as far back as 1538. Like civil registration these records include useful information about the family.
Old registers are kept at Local Record Offices. For any search prior to 1837 the International Genealogical Index (IGI) should be consulted. This covers baptisms and marriages from 1538-1870’s. The index is available on and is the best online resource for tracing people before civil registration began. If the Parish Registers are missing or incomplete annual returns of baptisms, marriages and burials were made to the church authorities. These are called Bishops Transcripts (BT’s) and can be found at Litchfield Record Offices.

Other Useful Sources
Once you have exhausted the basic sources there are other records that may be available at the Local Record Office or the Local Studies section of the library. Newspapers may contain reports of family events, for example weddings or funerals. Old Local Trade Directories list residents by streets and often give their occupation. Monumental Inscriptions (MI’s) give details of gravestones or public war memorials and may have been indexed by local Family History Societies these are available at Local Libraries or County Record Offices. It may be useful as your research progresses to join other Family History Societies as you discover ancestors living in different areas.

Our Web Site… You’re Here!
The Website lists the areas that CADFHS covers, it has a copy of its constitution, gives details of the society’s meetings, and items for sale. It has copies of the quarterly magazine, minutes of the committee meetings and AGM. It gives details of the magazines exchanged with other Societies and it provides a list of CADFHS member’s interests where you may find others researching the same name. To access the member’s interests you will need a password. This can be requested by contacting the society.

Your Next Steps
You will now have gathered sufficient material to make a basic family tree. Start with yourself and work backwards to your parents, grandparents and so on. You may decide you want to begin with the surname on your father’s side i.e. your name at birth, or you can investigate the female names that are on your tree. You may be more interested in your ancestor’s occupations or the particular area where they lived. It is a personal decision. The most important thing is to enjoy the search for your ancestors and to share the results
of your work with others that may be interested.

  • Regular Meetings

    St Hughs Catholic Church, Littlemoor, Chesterfield.

    First Tuesday in the Month 7pm for 7:30pm

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  • Matlock County Record Office

    New St, Matlock DE4 3FG
    Tel : 01629 53 92 02
    Opening times: Mon to Friday: 9.30am – 4.45pm
    One Saturday per month 9:30am – 4pm

  • Chesterfield Library

    ’Local studies Library’
    New Beetwell Street, Chesterfield, Derbyshire,
    S40 1QN
    Tel : 01629 53 34 00

    Opening Times:
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  • Society of Genealogists

    14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Rd, London,
    EC1M 7BA
    Tel:020 7251 8799
    Opening times
    Ties-Wed-Sat 10am -6pm
    Tours 10am -8pm

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